During my last ‘Newbies in Blackmoor’ game session, I used goblins and hobgoblins caves caves from KotB as a former gnome mine which has been conquered by these goblinoids, so as a separate dungeon. And, for my Borderlands group, I placed several classical outside of their ‘normal context’, including Lost city pyramid in a marsh, two days from the village of Orlane – even if, after a first attempt, the characters choose to delay visiting that intriguing place. That’s how I build my sandbox campaign using classical material.
So, a I must play soon with another group of players, I was looking around what modules I could use, and it gave me the idea to suggest alternate versions of the Caves of Chaos:
1 – The mountain caves. No changes, except reverse the level lines, so goblins, kobolds and so on are on the upper side. Maybe have a skull entrance on 51 tunnel to the temple, in the lower part of the mountain.
2 – The frozen caves. Same plan and creatures, but the caves are dig into Ice, not rock, in a polar setting. Probably the Keep is set on an island. Tunnels are slippery and orcs wear furs and use seal bones as tools. Easy to make others options like the desert caves, the jungle caves and so on…
3 – The undersea caves. Same plan, all creatures being replaced by their water cousin if any, or others filling the mood (a bloody killer whale instead of the owlbear ?). Sahuagins could fit the role for Temple of Chaos priests. A few traps should be changed, but not that’s much.
4 – The urban caves. Same plan, but the caves are set under a city, and their openings lead to some well known buildings. The keep could be the town’s keep as well. Maybe replace some creatures, like bugbears or gnolls, by a thieve’s guild or a smuggler’s gang.
5 – Caves of the giants. Turn kobolds to ogres, goblins to hill giants, hobgoblins to stone giants, gnolls to frost giants, bugbears to fire giants, ogre to an athatch an minotaur to Ettin, add each of them a few pets. Fore sur, makes the Temple fo Chaos a drow fortress and the High priest a drow female priest, and link this to the G-D-Q modules.
6 – The vertical caves. Same plan and creatures. Use the map as if it was a slice. The blank space in the middle is a very big cave. Then, add a lot, a lot of ladders, ropes, stairs and other means to go from a room to another. It turns to a nightmare to explore… A variant is the pit caves: Turn the map with east upward.
7 – The alien caves. Same plans, some technological changes. Allow tech weapons to the creatures which use range attacks and give a sci-fi outlook to the overall. The caves are located on an asteroid. As options, combine with 5 (without gravitation) or changes creatures to Barsoom ones. Use the keep as a space ship, for sure.
8 – The caves of Law. Use Halflings for Kobolds, gnomes for Goblins, dwarves for Hobgoblins, elves for gnolls, hsiaos (from RC) as bugbears and a temple of Law protected by statues. Use as home base, or send avengers from the Keep of Chaos.